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The founding Rotary club in Yakima, YAKIMA ROTARY CLUB is more often referred to as “DOWNTOWN ROTARY”, most likely because from the very beginning the club was populated with the city’s downtown business and community leaders. With over 310 members on average, the club is the largest Rotary club in its District and the 31 st largest in the world! Only one other club in Washington State is larger – Seattle.
Visiting guests to the weekly meetings, held every Thursday at Noon, are quite often stunned at how large a club it is for a city the size of Yakima.
The club is operated by an executive director who answers to the Club President and Board of nine elected from the regular membership for 3 year terms. Current Club officers List
There are thirty-seven committees that handle the various internal and external activities. The primary focus of club external activities is SERVICE ABOVE SELF, and is funded through the Rotary Charities arm of the Club’s annual budget. The Yakima Rotary Club funds several community service projects each year and offers annual scholarships for both continuing Academic and Vocational education.
Along with supporting local business, Volunteerism is an important part of Yakima Rotary membership. But a large club does not remain a vital, relevant organization like Yakima Rotary without a very deep sense of connection and camaraderie. It is something that All Rotarians experience no matter where they travel. Rotarians always say yes.
The Yakima Rotary Club is part of Rotary International District 5060 which runs from Prosser, Washington to Clearwater, British Columbia. There are 57 clubs within the District. There is a yearly conference hosted by the club of the current District Governor. The District in Rotary manage international activities such as the Rotary Youth Exchange program, District grant opportunities, and Leadership Development programs. To learn more about the specific projects for District 5060 please visit www.rotary5060.org.
“The Yakima Rotary Club was charted on December 1, 1919. It was sponsored by the Seattle Rotary Club, which itself was Rotary #4, meaning the fourth club formed in the world. Chicago is #1 followed by San Francisco #2, and Oakland #3. Upon formation, clubs were required to have 25 members with 25 distinct classifications. The first classifications for Yakima Rotary included undertaking, general physician, fruit processing, and ice manufacturing.
Meetings were held on Thursdays, at the Commercial Hotel. The very first community service project was to have proper street signs put up so that people would not get lost in the city and not long after that Yakima Rotary committed to raise $4,000 over 2 years to fund Boy Scout work. An area of focus for early fund raising was to help handicapped individuals, especially children. Rotary worked closely with (then) Childrens Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle.
In the 1970s the need for a facility to aid people with hearing and speech difficulties came to the attention of Yakima Rotary. Over $100,000 was given to set up Yakima Valley Hearing & Speech Center, and the club is still involved with this local agency.
By the 1940’s the Yakima Rotary club boasted over 100 members, had its first District Governor and first District Conference.
In the 1950’s the club moved its meetings from the Commercial Hotel to the new Chinook Hotel, and hosted another District Conference, and spearheaded a community-wide drive for $450,000 for pools and playgrounds.
The 60s saw Yakima Rotary break the 200 member mark, and the club sponsored the formation of another club- Southwest Rotary in Yakima.
The 1970’s brought the first World Community Service project to Yakima Rotary. Partnering with a Rotary club in Loja, Ecuador, Yakima Rotary committed to collect, sort, pack and ship up to 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses to Ecuador.
2019 marks 100 years of Yakima Rotary. The year is being celebrated with a new Yakima Rotary Aquatic Center in partnership with the YMCA set to open in November 2019 and the GREATEST PARTY EVER on Friday, December 6 at the Yakima Convention Center.